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Abstract

Sexual selection in mate-guarding Crustacea may involve several processes: male choice, male-male competition, and female choice. To evaluate the relative importance of the different processes in mate choice of the aquatic isopod I. baitica we studied 1) the mate-choice criteria of males, 2) effects of sex ratio on the outcome of the mating contest, and 3) the role of size in male-male interactions. When given a choice between a small and a large female, males most often chose the one that matured earlier for parturial ecdysis. Maturity was a more important choice criterion than female size, but these also correlated positively. Large males had a mating advantage in both male- and female-biased sex ratios; pairing was size-assortative only in the male-biased ratio where guarding was also longer. If an extra male was placed with a precopulatory pair, 30 % take-overs occurred, large males surpassing. Present and earlier work suggests that male size is an asset in both intra- and intersexual interactions. There is little or no direct phenotypic sexual selection on female size: sexual selection for large males presumably contributes to the evolution of sexual size dimorphism in I. baitica.